Wave Innovation Center Co-Founders Michael Redd and Danny Ortiz are bringing a fresh philosophy to the entrepreneurial scene in Columbus through their collaborative coworking space.
The 3,200 square foot innovation center on the edge of Italian Village is a hub for entrepreneurs to students to work, collaborate, find a mentor in its co-founders or other experienced professionals – to receive help without any strings attached.
“We actually don’t want equity in your company,” Redd says. “We actually just want to help and serve and provide a place of innovation and creation, and we’ll help however we can.”
Redd and Ortiz have been working together for over a decade. They’re part of California-based venture firm Third Wave Digital and together formed the Wave Innovation Group. Their experience in investing and entrepreneurship immersed them into the entrepreneurial ecosystem at OSU where they would often hear from students that wanted more business insight beyond what the institution was providing them.
The idea for the innovation center grew out of a conversation with Paul Reeder, executive director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and OSU’s Fisher College of Business. Before the center, Ortiz and Redd would often post up at Mission Coffee Co. in Short North to work. When Reeder saw the duo’s coffee cups during a meeting, he said the ecosystem needed a place like Mission – where people felt comfortable sharing their ideas and collaborating.
It aligned with a mindset that Redd and Ortiz had long held – give, give, give and someone will give to you; continually take and what you take from someone will be taken from you. The partners decided the best way to serve the entrepreneurial ecosystem was to create that space.
“Let’s create a space where young people will feel comfortable, feel family-oriented atmosphere, that we’re not here to steal ideas, but we’re here to generate ideas and see them come to fruition,” Ortiz says.
The Wave Innovation Center opened its doors in January of 2018 at 325 E. Fifth Ave. The urban location is intentional. Redd says they didn’t want to be in the suburbs, but in the urban core to provide better access to opportunities to those that might not otherwise have them.
In their first several months they’ve seen that intentionality come to fruition in reaching minority and women entrepreneurs. Diversity is important to Redd and Ortiz, who often find themselves to be the only people of color at the table.
“We know there’s not a lot of diversity in the entrepreneurship world,” Ortiz says. “There’s not a lot of diversity in the venture capital world.”
Ortiz knows that everyone that comes through the Wave might not be an entrepreneur, but teaching that entrepreneurial mentality, the skill set, even the language of business can set individuals up for success no matter the position they are in. Mentorship is a key component of the operation, whether it’s one-on-one or the frequent group mentorship sessions that happen multiple times a month.
The Wave offers affordable coworking memberships – $30/month for access during normal business hours, $50/month for 24/7 access. There’s a meeting room and the traditional amenities like WiFi, copying and coffee from Mission to pay homage to the space’s beginnings.
Wave Manager Manny Larcher says folks are welcome to test out the space and get a feel for the energy to see if it’s a fit. They’re open to anyone, but find people who are interested in contributing to the collaborative atmosphere to be the ones that stick around.
Redd is proud of the response that their “labor of love” has gotten from the community so far. They’ll bring more people into the space through community events, like their Collaborate & Elevate series that launches this week.
Redd and Ortiz are also setting their sights on more locations – around Columbus, in Milwaukee where Redd played in the NBA for the Bucks, and ultimately around the world.
For more information, visit waveinnovationcenter.com.
All photos by Susan Post.